The Associated Press - Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014 16:31 ET

Julie Chu, Amanda Kessel highlight U.S. Olympic women's hockey squad

American women's team boasts 11 returning Olympians

From left to right, Kacey Bellamy, Julie Chu and Meghan Duggan, seen after winning the 2013 worlds, were picked for the Sochi squad. (Sean Kilpatrick/Associated Press)

Eleven returning Olympians are on the roster for the women's hockey team that will represent the United States at Sochi.

The roster was announced during the break between periods of the NHL's Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Julie Chu is heading to her fourth Olympics. She'll be looking for a gold medal to go with the two silvers and a bronze she's already got. Canada has won the last three Olympic titles.

Also making the team was Amanda Kessel, whose brother Phil played in the Winter Classic for Toronto and was named to the U.S. men's team after the game.

"Today is an important day for our team and we're thrilled to continue our journey toward Sochi," said Katey Stone, who is on leave from her coaching job at Harvard to head Team USA. "We have a good blend of veterans and first-time Olympians and we're excited about what lies ahead. We're enthusiastic about our team and focused on getting better every day."

The U.S. women's team has seven defencemen, 11 forwards and includes three goaltenders: Jesse Vetter, Molly Schaus and Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle, all of whom have Olympic experience. The other
players with Olympic experience include Kacey Bellamy, Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin and Kelli Stack.

All 21 players have appeared in the World Championships, including 18 who played for the American team that beat Canada for the gold medal in Ottawa in April. The team has been training in Bedford, Mass. It will depart for the Sochi on Feb. 1, play its Olympic opener on Feb. 8 against Finland and meet archrival Canada in the preliminary round on Feb. 12.

"It's an incredible rivalry," said Duggan, who was wearing the captain's "C" on her jersey when she was interviewed on TV during the NHL game. "We're doing everything we can to prepare ourselves to get a great game over there."

The U.S. beat Canada four out of six times in a recent exhibition series, in addition to posting a victory over their rival at the Four Nations Cup.

The Americans and Canadians are the favourites to meet again in the gold medal game on Feb. 20. The two North American hockey powers have won every world championship and every Olympic gold medal since the sport was added to the Winter Games in Nagano in 1998.

Chu, a Harvard graduate, is the oldest player at 31 and Lee Steckline the youngest at 19.

Also 19 years of age, forward Alex Carpenter, the daughter of Bobby Carpenter, former NHL player and assistant coach.

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